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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Friday, April 17, 2015

It's a great year for geeks: Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Avengers, Mad Max, Terminator

As I've previously mentioned, I signed up in recent months to write a book for the academic publisher Springer on, basically, the topic of science fiction and moral philosophy. That will include discussing many books, stories, movies, TV series, comics, etc., from a point of view grounded in a knowledge of moral philosophy (though also grounded in my knowledge of the genre and my skills/training as a literary critic).

Like all my projects, this one will require some rigorous, difficult thinking. I don't expect it to be at all easy to deliver a manuscript at the standard I aim for. There will be ups and downs. Let's face it, though, the research is going to be a lot of fun!

I'll be reading more works of prose fiction, watching more movies and TV episodes, etc., than is normally the case for me in recent years, and I'll be able to use this blog as my sandbox as I get some initial thoughts down about what I want to say. I also expect to write here about much material that won't end up being discussed in the book, since I'll need to cast my net widely to sort out just which works actually will be discussed there.

This is going to be a great year for geeks in the sense that we can look forward to many high-profile SF (and related) movies, among them new instalments from the Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Avengers, Mad Max, and Terminator franchises. The last of these is especially dear to my heart, as I once wrote some tie-in novels for the world of the first two Terminator movies... but all of them are going to be worth seeing. I plan to review them all here, along with much else that I'll be reading, re-reading, watching, re-watching, and so forth.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Back to basics

I'm planning to take this blog back more to its original conception. As a first step, I've restored its original title "Metamagician and the Hellfire Club". One change I'm making from the original conception, though, is that I'm disabling comments.

I've been scratching my head on and off for a few years now about this blog. At one point it was quite popular, though by that stage it had moved away from its original purpose. It then needed to be a lot more popular to suit its changing role, and that never really happened. I think I was happiest with it when it was just my weblog and sandpit. So that's the direction it will move in.

By and large, the discussions here were always civil, thoughtful, and useful. All the same, moderating can take a lot of time and energy, which I've decided I don't have left over from other projects. So I'm more likely to write stuff here - perhaps even some interesting stuff that a few people might want to read - if I don't have to worry about providing yet another discussion forum on the internet.

More to come about this!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Green light for new book from Palgrave Pivot

I've been given the green light from Palgrave Pivot for a small academic monograph with the working title: The Mystery of Moral Authority. I'm jumping the gun slightly in announcing this, but I hope to sign a formal contract in the next few days quite soon.

I already have a good draft of the manuscript, but I'll be putting in some more work to meet the publisher's formal requirements (house style, etc.), get it down to 45,000 words, and generally make sure I'm happy with it. If all goes well, expect to see the book published (primarily as an e-book, but with print on demand available) in about six months.

I'm excited, of course. Palgrave Pivot is a quality publisher - actually a specialist academic imprint of Palgrave Macmillan, which is part, in turn, of the large Macmillan Group. At the same time, a small book of this sort will enable me to set out my views on some fundamental issues in moral philosophy in a way that's concise and to the point, but still allows room to develop some detailed arguments.

I'll be attempting to do justice to a range of philosophical views, while criticising them. These will include some that are often dismissed quickly: my approach is to look at the strongest versions of, say, moral relativism, I can find, attempting to identify what their attraction might be and what grains of truth they might contain. Often I see writers attack vulgar or weak versions of philosophical theories that they dislike, which does little for intellectual progress (or even for conveying what serious theories are on offer).

The Mystery of Moral Authority will also serve as a manifesto for my own positive account of morality and moral philosophy. Don't expect me to spell that out here (if I could do so in a blog post, I wouldn't need to write a book!). Still, to give a hint of the direction, the manuscript currently states that moral error theorists are the closest thing to my "tribe" among proponents of various contemporary approaches to metaethics.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book contract signed with Springer - Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination

ICYMI (and I probably haven't made enough fuss about this), back in November I signed a contract with Springer to write a book entitled Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics.

The manuscript is due for delivery in late 2016, which implies a publication date some time in 2017. That's quite a long time to wait to see the book in print, but not such a long time for me to write it (while dealing with some other projects that are under negotiation). I'll be spending a lot more time than has recently been the case getting back to reading science fiction novels and stories, watching SF movies, etc. I'm sure writing the book will be hard work, as always, but the research should be fun.

Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination will be part of Springer's new Science and Fiction series.

Toes, meet water

So, quite a lot has been happening in my own life. Perhaps time to make some short posts about this, if only to catch up. I still don't expect to be returning to serious blogging (frequent long posts on serious topics, etc.) any time soon, but at least I might be able to catch up a bit.

Also, with a relevant book contract signed (I've revealed this before, but will blog separately about it), I hope to get back to reading/watching a lot more science fiction (and related popular culture) this year, so I might be getting back to writing more reviews and comments about SF/pop culture. I'm especially aware that this is going to be a big year for movies in that respect, with the new Avengers, Star Wars, Terminator, Jurassic Park, etc., movies scheduled.